Old Dad Mountain, Old Woman Mountains


By: Bill T. Russell, John McCully


Our trip was featured as a reunion for people who have not climbed with the DPS recently. The concept was started last year and we hope that it will be continued as an annual event. It turned out that more newcomers than old timers showed up, which is fine.

We met at a large flat area on the Aiken Mine road, 1.7 mi west of the Kelbaker road. This is a good camp area for a large group and we used it Sat night. The road from the meeting place to the Old Dad trailhead has had water damage and has soft sand, 4wd vehicles only are recommended. The Road and Peak Guide mentions a "rough dire track" that goes north for one mile from the 2wd meeting place: Actually this track is as good as the road for O.5 mi south of the meeting place so we drove to its end.

Our route was up the canyon to the left of the ridge mentioned in the Peak Guide, it is good class 2 all the way. We formed two groups; a fast one of 19 people led by John McCully with Greg Roach as sweep and a slower one of 13 with me in the lead and Pat Russell at the rear. We started about 1030 and all were on top by 1230. The register container is a 2" pvc pipe and the book is OK and about half full. In descending, Dan Richter and Charlie Knapke took part of the fast group down the canyon that starts just to the south of the peak. They enjoyed scrambling around some class 3 dry waterfalls.

The slower "distinguished" group descended the way we came up. About one third of the way down, David Stepsay fell down a '12 ft rock wall. He was walking horizontally across the top of the wall but was closer to the edge than was wise. He does not remember what caused him to fall, but he slipped, tripped or stumbled and over the edge he went. The two people behind him saw him go but they also do not know why he toppled. David was sure that his left wrist was broken or damaged but he seemed to be OK otherwise. We splinted his lower arm and hand using a fanny pad. With me in front and with the valuable help of Bill Lien and Ron Young, who traded off giving a rear belay by means of a grip on David's belt, we completed the descent.

On the return to our camp spot, the only 2wd vehicle in our caravan of 13, got stuck in sand and had to be towed out. About the same time, the venerable International Scout of the Dobos's developed a hard short in the starter cables and the engine caught fire. Frank put out the fire and Dan Richter towed them back to camp.

I drove David Stepsay's truck with David, followed by Pat in my Explorer, to the hospital in Barstow where they took an X ray and found that he had a Colles fracture of the radius bone near where it ends at the wrist bones. We continued on to David's home in west LA. By then it was 11 pm so Pat and I decided to forgo the climb of Old Woman on Sun. A few days later David went to an orthopod at UCLA who said that his arm would be OK.

The story of the rest of the outing is by John McCully, who became expedition leader.

At the campfire it was established that Ted and Anna Lou Pinson had the most Sierra Club seniority, having joined about 40 years ago. George Pfeiffer clocked in as the oldest person present at almost 73 years and also was the oldest when he did his first DPS peak, 65. Dan Richter's son Will at 13 was both the youngest person present and the youngest when he did his first DPS peak, Pico Risco only a few weeks earlier. Linda McDermott pointed out that her daughter had climbed Weaver's Needle some years ago at age 7, but sending her mother as her representative to our camp fire was deemed insufficient to garner the award. Bill Bradley climbed his first DPS peak in 1966, the year he joined the club, and thus had been climbing DPS peaks longer than anyone present. Dave Welbourn joined the Sierra Club in 1965 but waited a few years before doing a DPS peak, as had the Pinsons.

Sunday morning, Frank Dobos discovered that the piece of the frame that held up his engine and transmission had broken and we left Frank rolling around under his truck trying to push it back in place. As usual Frank was able to patch it together somehow and got back to LA about noon. Frank is not sure how many times the odometer has turned over on his 1977 vintage truck.

Twenty eight people started off to do Old Woman a little before 10, and by noon 27 had made it to the top. I led the fast group going up with Greg Roach sweeping. Karen Leonard led the 2nd group with Patty Kline sweeping. Coming down we broke into three groups, with Asher Waxman sweeping the adventure group that checked out a new ridge that looked rough but proved easy. Greg and Myna Roach led the medium group while Karen Leonard led the slow group and Patty swept once again. All went smoothly and everyone got down by 2:30.

Participants were Bill T Russell, Adrienne Knute, Peter Doggett, Jack Waxman, Pat Russell, Carl Faber, Greg Roach, Ron Young, John McCully, George Pfeiffer, Mirna Roach, Paula Peterson, Karen Leonard, David Stepsay, Tom Sumner, Bruce Petereson, Eric Siering, Jim Erb, Eleanor Carter, Ted Pinson, Devra Wasserman, T. Rutherford, Bill Lien, Anna L. Pinson, Dan Richter, Charlie Knapke, Frank Dobos, Bill Bradley, Linda McDermott, Ron Bartell, Ruth Dobos, Judy Ware, Patty Kline, W C. Mitchell, Asher Waxman, Willy Richter, Dave Welbourn, Vic Henney, and Sue Wyman

Detailed information for visiting one or more peaks mentioned in this article can be found in the
Desert Peak Section Road and Peak Guides

DPS Archives Index | Desert Peaks Section